South Dakota Joins Alabama, Louisiana In Equal Rights Amendment Lawsuit

Dec 19, 2019

South Dakota is suing the archivist of the United States over the Equal Rights Amendment.

Other plaintiff’s include Alabama and Louisiana. They say the ERA cannot be ratified because the congressional deadline for ratification has expired.

The amendment guarantees “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States of by any state on account of sex.”

Congress passed the amendment in 1972 to add it to the US Constitution. It came up several states short of the threshold needed for adoption into law nationwide.

After a democratic wave swept the Virginia state legislature, that state could become the 38th state to ratify the amendment.

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg says that will fall four decades after a congressional deadline to do so. That process, he says, is flawed…

“There are case law out there that saying that if you do not bring a lawsuit prior to that final ratification, once the archivist receives it he can declare it’s ratified, then the whole case would be moot and you cannot challenge it,” Ravnsborg says. “Some procedural steps are in place, there, that we felt the timing of it was of the essence because they’ll take office in early January.”

He says an amendment to the constitution should not be done by procedural nuances decades after a deadline prescribed by congress.

The South Dakota state legislature ratified the amendment in 1973, but after other states failed to follow suit the legislature rescinded its ratification in 1979. The complaint filed says four other states also rescinded their ratifications.

Ravnsborg says cost should be minimal. He says Attorney Paul Swedlund is taking the lead on the case.